Many people are under the impression that vision loss is just something that happens as we age. And while age can certainly play a part, there are preventative measures that can be taken today to help you protect the health of your eyes tomorrow.
August is National Cataract Awareness Month, and with summer winding down, now is a great time to schedule checkups for you and your loved ones with your local eye doctor before school starts back up and the holidays are here.
Cataracts currently affect more than 22 million Americans, and are the leading cause of vision loss in people age 55 and older. It is estimated that more than half of people age 65 and older have some degree of cataract development, and more than half of people age 80 and older either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
A cataract forms when the eye’s lens becomes clouded with an opaque film, thereby blocking or changing the passage of light into the eye. This can cause blurred and distorted vision, especially on bright, sunny days or while driving at night. Other symptoms of cataracts include: colors that appear faded; glares; difficulty seeing at night and double vision.
However, there are five simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing cataracts:
- Regular eye exams: Early detection can help aid in the diagnosis and treatment of cataracts and other eye issues.
- Quit smoking: Smoking has been linked to several serious health issues, including cataracts. If you need help quitting, your doctor can recommend medications and/or other approaches to cessation.
- Wear sunglasses: Experts believe the sun’s ultraviolet rays may contribute to the development of cataracts, so be sure to wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you’re outdoors.
- Take care of yourself: Keep an eye on existing conditions, including diabetes, that may contribute to the development of cataracts.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables: The vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants found in a wide range of colorful produce can aid the body in fighting many signs of aging. Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, while being low in fat and calories, thereby helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
Remember, just a few simple steps today can help preserve the health of your eyes, and your independence, as you age.